Yuri Gagarin (First human in space)

Fifty years ago today, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to experience outer space.
Beforehand, he wrote a poignant letter to his wife, telling her to remarry if he didn’t survive. But his last conversation before liftoff, according to secret recordings only now released by Russia, was decidedly less sentimental, peppered with swears and talk about … sausage.
At the height of the Cold War, Gagarin’s feat as the first man in space was heralded as a victory for the Soviet Union and a humiliation for America. It spurred tit-for-tat one-upmanship that pushed NASA to put a man on the moon eight years later. Gagarin (then 27) became a national hero, and details of his flight and even his personal life were considered Soviet state secrets for decades. Until now.
Russia released more than 700 pages of never before seen material linked to Gagarin’s life and times this week, ahead of today’s 50th anniversary. Among the documents are transcripts of radio transmissions that recorded Gagarin’s final words before taking flight. In such a serious and historic moment, the exchanges between Gagarin and Soviet technicians – who later acknowledged that they feared for his life – were surprisingly calm and even funny.
One of the last things Gagarin did before liftoff was check his supply of food. His flight planners were concerned about him having enough to eat after his voyage, once he’d landed in barren fields near the Volga River (450 miles from Moscow). They joked about his food supply over a radio transmission, once the hatch on his Vostok space capsule was shut.

Yuri Gagarin (First human in space)
Yuri Gagarin.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight by Uri Gagarin, with North-East firms playing an integral part in the ensuing moon race Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became one of the most famous men on the planet when he orbited the Earth in Vostok 1, on April 12, 1961. Just over a month later, US President John F Kennedy, determined to regain the initiative for his country, told Congress – “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”
Unbeknown at that time, foundations had been laid in the North-East to play a significant role in that adventure.
Some 35 years earlier, a young apprentice (Francis Thomas Bacon) had joined one of the North-East’s largest employers, steam turbine builder CA Parsons, in Newcastle.
While at the firm (where he worked from 1925 to 1940) he became interested in the potential of fuel cells, devices using hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, for pollution-free power.
As its commercial value wasn’t then recognised, he initially began carrying out experiments at the firm in secret, unaware that his work was to play an integral part in putting Apollo 11 and US astronaut Neil Armstrong on the moon in 1969.

A guitarist from British rock group Queen is recording a new song dedicated to Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who became the first human to fly into space 50 years ago. Brian May (who also has a doctorate degree in astrophysics) is recording the song with German electronic music group Tangerine Dream.
The song will debut at the Starmus science and music festival on the Spanish island of Tenerife to be held between June 20 and 25.
They will also record a second song dedicated to cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, who was the first man to carry out a space walk.
Both songs will be based on ‘cosmic’ sounds, a festival spokesman said.
The festival (which is being held to celebrate the Gagarin anniversary) is expected to be attended by the first woman cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova, and NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who was part of the first manned lunar mission.

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